2013 was to be the last vintage that Bernhard Huber worked on. Indeed, come harvest time his poor health had confined him to the winery itself. Fortunately his young and driven son Julian was on hand to coordinate the vineyard work – while Bernhard faithfully directed the winery as he had always done. Julian reflects on this with bittersweet nostalgia, as he talks of soaking up all the knowledge he could from his father in what would be their last vintage together. That the winery had been suffering this cruel, drawn out blow, is not in any way apparent from the 2013s that bear the Huber name. In fact, you sense a certain tribute in this vivid range of wines.
In general 2013 was cool, a character the Hubers cherish in a vintage. With the exception of a localised and powerful hail storm that fell on the 2nd of May, Bernhard’s birthday – an unusual time of the year that impacted yields rather than quality – the vintage conditions were good. Perhaps as a result of the hail they harvested an unusually high proportion of millerande berries; small pipless grapes that have a high skin to juice ratio, more often than not producing intensely flavoured wines with impressive structures. For a young man inspired by the wines of Burgundy, such cool conditions are nothing short of ideal.
Now in bottle, the resulting wines have the most wonderful acidities. They possess excellent levels of concentration without heaviness and are wines of tension and torque allied to great vitality. The differences between sites, often a litmus test for Pinot lovers, is clearly defined in 2013, and the expression of fruit, earth and stone across the range is seriously impressive. When asked to sum it up Julian was succinct, “if 2010 was our benchmark, 2013 is not far behind.”
Both Malterdinger and Alte Reben are open for business today, the former likely to drink well for 3 years of so, the latter up to 8. Bienenberg and Sommerhalde will show best from 2017 to 2025.